Policy discussions amidst recent changes in the legal status of cannabis for medical purposes have raised concerns regarding the diversion of medical cannabis to nonlicensed users. This study examined factors that predict frequency of use of diverted medical cannabis.
Data were collected from an online convenience sample of 1,387 cannabis users in Israel. Linear regression was used to examine whether sociodemographic background, number of licensed acquaintances, patterns of use, and problematic cannabis use predicted frequency of use of diverted medical cannabis.
In all, 70% of respondents reported using diverted medical cannabis at least once in their lifetime, but far fewer (30%) reported use 6 times or more. Reporting more acquaintances with a medical cannabis license, more cannabis use problems, higher cannabis use frequency, and more hours feeling “stoned” were all significantly related to more frequent use of diverted medical cannabis.
This study suggests that diversion of medical cannabis exists among cannabis users in Israel and that use of diverted medical cannabis may be associated with adverse effects. Before direct intervention and policy recommendations can be developed, however, more evidence is needed about the extent of and how medical cannabis is diverted to the underground market and the potential detrimental effects of using this type of cannabis.